“In Afghanistan there is so much violence and prejudice toward women. Because of that, when I come here and box, I feel freedom," said Shahla Sekandari.
Sekandri is a 20-year-old female boxer, training, along with her teammates, for the 2012 Olympics.
Female boxing in Afghanistan is frowned upon even among some of the boxers' family members. A few years ago, under Taliban rule, women participating in the sport would have been unthinkable.
Reported by Illume, Oxfam, a sponsor of the Afghan team stated, “In a country ravaged by 30 years of war and run by a conservative male-dominated society, these female boxers are Afghanistan’s most improbable ambassadors for peace.”
The girls have made quick and remarkable progress. Growing steadily stronger, they are now a force to reckon with.
Sekandari won a bronze medal at the Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam and is Afghanistan's best contender for the Olympics. The team made headway toward its gold medal goal when the International Boxing Association approved wearing the hijab during boxing matches.